Uncovering a Hidden Disease
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November is Epilepsy Awareness Month. 65 million people around the world have epilepsy, which is a seizure disorder that can be triggered by various things including flashing lights, lack of sleep and lack of food.
Junior Renee McClanahan is 1 of those 65 million people.
“When I first started [having seizures] my brain would just shut off. I wouldn’t be there for 10 to 20 seconds,” McClanahan said.
When McClanahan was first diagnosed with epilepsy at the age of 10, she had absence seizures. Absence seizures were where she would space off for seconds at a time and were often interpreted as someone daydreaming rather than having a seizure.
“I just feel like I can’t lift my body,” Burns said.
Burns isn’t too sure the exact name of the seizure type he has but his body will tense up and he loses conscious feeling. He has had two seizures since he was eight caused by flashing lights.
“[When I had my first seizure] my mom was scared. I just wasn’t there. I felt like I wasn’t in the room,” Burns said.
Burns had his first seizure when his mom was having a party and someone kept taking pictures with the flash on.
“I was in class [when I had my first seizure] and I was in the back of the room and [a classmate] noticed I was laying on my desk,” McClanahan said.
McClanahan was confused by the classmate’s reaction to her because she just thought she fell asleep. The classmate informed her however that her eyes were open and she was twitching.
“I eat a modified Atkins diet [to aid in preventing seizures]. It’s high fat and medium to low carbs,” McClanahan said.
McClanahan can’t take medication because it will emaciate her and give her tonic-clonic seizures, which consist of muscle tension and body jerking.
“I take prescription. I take it once every 24 hours when I wake up before I come to school,” Burns said.
Burns had his last seizure in the seventh grade.
“I don’t get [seizures] often, but if I do they’re bad,” Burns said.
McClanahan has a few seizures a day. She no longer has absence seizures, but instead complex partial seizures, which consist of not only spacing off, but often the person still moves or talks.
But what can you do to help someone if they have epilepsy or seizures?
“Just being aware helps a lot,” Burns said.
It depends on what type of seizures they have what you should do to help them but some general rules are to be aware and to remain calm.